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Campus organizations promote early voting


By Natasha Bhuyan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
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With the deadline for voter registration passed and election day approaching, campus organizations are promoting early voting to ensure students' voices are heard.

Also known as mail-in ballots or absentee ballots, early voter ballots allow students who cannot make it to their polling station on Nov. 2 to cast their vote by mail.

Yvonne Reed, assistant to the Maricopa Country Recorder, said if students want an early ballot mailed to them outside of their registered county, they must submit a written request to their registered county for signature verification.

"We don't want ballots floating around where they shouldn't be," Reed said.

Ballots will be mailed to voters within two days, Reed said, and must be postmarked by Nov. 1.

F. Ann Rodriguez, Pima County Recorder, said students do not have to be "absent" to request an absentee ballot. Anyone registered in Pima County can request an early ballot by phone, Internet or mail, as long as the ballot will be mailed to a location within Pima County, Rodriguez said.

Amber Hicks, a biochemistry and molecular biophysics sophomore said voting by mail is time-efficient and easier.

"You don't have to stand in line or drive down there," Hicks said.

Each state has a different deadline to request mail-in ballots. Arizona's is Oct. 22, Rodriguez said.

For out-of-state or out-of-county students, campus organizations such as the UA Young Democrats and the UA College Republicans already have early ballot requests available for students on the Mall.

"We encourage people to request an early ballot," said Danielle Roberts, president of UACR. "It is convenient and allows you to think over the propositions, making an educated vote."

Alicia Cybulski, president of UAYD, said UAYD has already gotten a good response from out-of-state and out-of-county students, as well as students registered in Pima County who prefer to vote early.

So far, Maricopa County has processed over 250,000 early ballot requests, up from 135,592 mail-in ballots during the 2000 presidential election, Reed said.

As of last week, Pima County had already sent out 92,220 mail-in ballots.

"This is unbelievable...we are processing them as fast as we can," Rodriguez said. "During the last election we did 120,000 total."

Ben Kalafut, president of the Campus Libertarians, said class or work considerations could prevent students from going to polls Nov. 2, so voting early is encouraged.

Students registered in Pima County have another early voting option. An early polling station will be on campus from Oct. 25 to Oct. 29 in the third floor conference room of the UofA Bookstore.

Alistair Chapman, president of Associated Students at the University of Arizona, said students, staff, faculty, and community members registered in any precinct of Pima County can vote at the early polling site as all districts' ballots will be available.

"Things happen and you may not have the opportunity to make it to the polling place by the 7 p.m. deadline," said David Martinez, secretary for UAYD. "Why take the risk, when voting early is so easy?"

Joseph Shaw, an undeclared sophomore, said he will vote early to get it out of the way.

Elizabeth Miller, an ecology and evolutionary biology freshman registered in Virginia, said she plans to vote absentee.

"Voting is very important," Miller said. "It doesn't really matter how, as long as you vote."

To request an early ballot, students should contact their county elections department. Arizona voters can visit http://www.azsos.gov/election/2004/info/County.htm for more information.



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